Understanding feelings and emotions can be very challenging for our students. To help them understand this abstract concept, teach & integrate the activities and concepts across the school day. Here are ways to target academic goals and standards while sneaking in these social skills concepts.
explicitly teach about feelings and emotions
During direct instruction, morning meeting, or reading centers, use posters to introduce the different feelings. Discuss what the feelings are, when we might feel them, how to recognize them, etc. Brainstorm lists of feelings and emotions with students.
Hang the posters up after introducing each one and refer to them throughout the day as they come up naturally. If your school uses the Zones Of Regulation, you could also color code the emotions like in the picture above.
Integrate reading and social skills
To work on reading and comprehension skills while teaching about emotions, use the interactive books in the feelings bundle. They are the perfect tool for students who need extra support to answer comprehension questions.
They offer visual choices and simpler vocabulary that help them answer questions on each page. The visuals can also be used to answer questions after reading the book and to answer more abstract questions about feelings and scenarios.
Target feelings and emotions in writing centers
To work on writing, journals and check-ins are a wonderful way to work on identifying and understanding their feelings and emotions. Use the posters and visuals to help students write about their feelings. They can serve as a spelling reference or as a writing prompt.
Here are 3 ways to target writing while teaching about emotions and feelings:
- Have students pick a feeling poster and make a thought map for that feeling. Students can list or dictate what the emotion looks like, what situations make you feel that way, etc.
- Let students choose an emotion other than happy. Have students make a list of coping strategies and tools they can use when they feel that way.
- DIrect students to write a story where the characters go through at least 2 or 3 of the emotions.
To have the concepts fresh in their minds, you could start with reading one of the interactive books. Then have them write about a feeling from the book.
review emotions during task bins
Use the feelings and emotions clip cards to teach about and review in task bins and independent workstations.
The task cards come in multiple levels to fit all of your students’ needs. The clip cards have a set with 2 answer choices and 3 answer choices.
build independent reading experiences
The interactive books are also good for independent or quiet reading times. Make extra copies of the interactive books and keep them on your class bookshelf so students can read them often. This builds positive interactions with texts for students while giving students more exposure to feelings and emotional concepts.
games for feelings and emotions
There are lots of fun games you can use to target feelings and emotions. As a bonus, they often build language skills, too!
- Play a guessing games using the feelings posters. Give the class clues about a feeling and see if students can guess which one you are describing.
- Make copies of the pictures from the interactive books or posters and play memory with them. Have students identify the feelings as they flip them over.
- Use the copies of the pictures from the memory game and play Go Fish with them. This is a great way to work on asking peers questions, orienting towards peers, etc.
- Play musical feelings by laminating the posters and laying them out on the floor. Have students walk around them until the music stops. Take turns having having students identify the feeling they stopped on, what might make them feel that way, etc.
Be creative, games are a fun way to reinforce skills!
Motor movement ideas
Get your students up and moving! Interactive books and clip cards can be used during a motor group or obstacle course. For example, place an interactive book at one end of the classroom and have students complete a given motor direction (skip to the book, do one page, then bear walk back to your seat).
You could place clip cards at the end of an obstacle course, so students work their way through the course, complete a card, then get back in line. Your students are getting much-needed movement while reinforcing the concepts of feelings and emotions.
Speech & social skills groups for emotions
Use the feelings and emotions bundle materials to help students recognize how others around you are feeling and how you contribute to those feelings.
The interactive books and scenario cards are great for use in social skills or speech groups. Get students talking to each other and identifying each other’s emotions. Introduce a feeling with the feelings posters and have students come up with examples of when they might feel that emotion. They can then compare their answers with their classmates. Helping our students to learn and recognize feelings helps them increase their social skills.
Discuss how we can help our bodies deal with feelings and emotions instead of being ruled by them. The interactive book above, How To Calm Yourself Down, is perfect for this discussion. Students can practice and learn about the different coping skills on each page.
The resources in the feelings bundle can be used in so many different ways and across so many different settings. The more opportunities our students have to work with these materials, the better understanding they will gain of their feelings, and the better they will be able to self-regulate and cope with the way they feel. This bundle is a must-have for any special education classroom!
more social emotional resources for teachers
- Click here to check out 10 children’s books to help teach about social skills.
- Tips to build social skills and class morale here.
- Grab more tips on building coping skills in this post.